Character Profile - The Black Major
Posted: 15 Feb 2010 17:58
Much is still classified under the Official Secrets Act, but the following has been pieced together with co-operation from the Royal Marines' depot, the headmasters of various public schools, the police and various private citizens. Subject shall be called "John Shepherd", to protect his family name.
From a young age, John Shepherd was determined to become a Royal Marine, all of his focus and actions were geared towards that dream. The first known record is of his attending the Marlow School for Young Men, where his competitive edge and ruthless streak soon manifested as he challenged, and beat, the elder rowing team. At the age of seventeen, Shepherd changed his school where he met Sanjit from Sikkim in the Himalayas. Shepherd blackmailed him into teaching him to climb. However, mastering the skill was not enough and a dark, brooding jealousy for Sanjit's natural ability took over. Shepherd swiftly framed him and Sanjit was given an instant expulsion.
After leaving school Shepherd travelled to Devon to train as a Royal Marine officer. A new jealousy soon consumed him for fellow officer Chad Dillon. Shepherd sailed through the Green Beret course and was given command of a troop. He trained them hard and they soon earned a reputation as the best.
When visiting London for a dress uniform fitting, Shepherd witnessed an armed robbery. He tailed the crooks back to their lair, but rather than informing the authorities, he chose to blackmail them instead. He joined them and, purely for the thrill, took part in a daring bank robbery. The gang got away with half a million pounds. Shepherd invested his cut in private ski training for his troop, to give them a fighting edge in their forthcoming Winter Warfare Training in Norway.
The Norwegian training exercise pitted Shepherds troop against a Dutch unit led by a Lieutenant Jan Van Tromp. A rivalry instantly developed and, partly as a result of Shepherd's irrational determination to win at all costs, the Dutch won the exercise. The following evening, Van Tromp's convoy suffered a multiple vehicle collision on a patch of black ice. Half the Dutch troop were hospitalised with broken bones.
Back in London, Shepherd was spotted meeting his East End gang at a boxing venue. Before Navy Diving Instructor CPO Coker could inform anyone, Shepherd attempted to drown him. Coker survived the assault but at the time was too afraid to make an official complaint.
Shepherd's unit was then posted to Hong Kong, where he was awarded the rank of Captain after saving the life of his CO from a Tong assassination squad. Also rescued at the time was his former classmate Sanjit, now of the Gurkhas, who had already survived one Tong assassination attempt. The motivations for the assassination attempts are unclear, as the Tong headquarters was destroyed that same night. Local authorities attributed the violence to local gang rivalries.
Upon returning to Norway for exercises, Shepherd's stubbornness caused his assault craft to be holed during a katabatic storm, one man died and two were hospitalised. Dillon was promoted to Troop Sergeant for rescuing two men, much to Shepherd's resentment. During the same mission Shepherd singlehandedly fought and killed a polar bear, later having it skinned as a rug for the officer's mess.
While in the Mediterranean for NATO exercises, Shepherd ran afoul of the US Marine Battalion Boxer Champion, Rocco, who gave him a black eye. By way of revenge, Shepherd's squad employed a Trojan Horse tactic to seize the American flagship. The Americans were furious and lodged an official complaint regarding Shepherd's actions. Later that same day, Rocco was caught in a freak accident at the Athens ruins, crushing both of his hands and ending his boxing career.
For reasons unknown, Chas Dillon left the Marines to join the SBS. Shepherd followed suit, which allowed him to avoid any repercussions for his unorthodox actions during the US exercise. It was during his SBS training that Shepherd was diagnosed at claustrophobic. However, before a full psychological profile could be built, a rash of oceanic terrorist attacks began.
The sudden emergence of an entire fleet of red warships and submarines bearing the skull and crossbones emblem caused governments worldwide to react. Their response was to create a multinational, independent team codenamed Action Force. Dillon and Shepherd were each requested to join, the fortuitous timing meant that Shepherd's SBS training was cut short before his claustrophobia was fully diagnosed. Due to Action Force being under the joint command of two superpower Colonels, Shepherd was not promoted to Major as he had hoped.
Baron Ironblood and his Red Shadow army claimed responsibility for wiping out a series of isolated research stations across the Antarctic. Ultimatums were issued that, unless ransoms were paid within one day, another station would be destroyed. Action Force were deployed to Station Six to intervene. The following account was discovered next to the fallen body of Chas Dillon, written in his own blood upon the ice field:
"Shepherd Traitor. Broken by Shads. Ironblood is Devil."
Shepherd was courts martialed in absentia and stripped of all rank, his family swiftly disowned him. Exactly one month later in an attempted coup in an Andean country, a new Red Shadow operative was reported - El Commandante Negro. The Black Major's promotion was confirmed.
The Black Major
The Black Major's service in the Red Shadow movement was a bloody chapter indeed. Completely merciless, the Baron's attack dog turned his Action Force training against his former comrades time and time again. His loyalty to the Baron was absolute.
Shortly after the raids upon the Antarctic, Ironblood's troops seized Ascendancy Island, a small extinct volcano. The Black Major personally executed the Prime Minister and Chief of Police. Ironblood threatened to trigger a bomb to ignite the volcano unless the United Nations paid him four hundred million dollars in gold bars. Action Force teams invaded Ascendancy and a fierce battle ensued. The Baron's submarine was depth charged by Q Force while attempting to escape. ronblood launched a massive counter-strike, designed to pinpoint every Action Force team simultaneously. The Black Major was despatched to Malaysia to kill Eagle, the SAS Squad Leader. The fight was bitter and both men barely escaped alive
Operation Bloodhound: Action Force's SAS unit were assigned the task of hunting down the Baron. A single strike team doggedly pursued him across South America from the High Andes to the Amazon Jungle, to Rio De Janeiro and to Brasilia, before confronting him in the Pampas Grasslands. Ironblood barely escaped with his life.
The Baron then struck at the Venezuelan oilfield on Lake Maracaibo and the French Foreign Legion Space Centre at Guiana. He sent an ultimatum to the neighbouring countries of Colombia and Guyana, demanding a ransom to prevent further attacks upon their interests. This deliberate trail was in fact a trap for SAS, who immediately scrambled to Ecuador. Upon their arrival in the Galapagos, the Black Major led a massive seaborne fleet of Shadows in the hunt for the SAS team. Once they were cornered, Red Shadow scientist Red Laser triggered a massive volcanic eruption which engulfed the team.
Free to pursue his endeavours, Ironblood launched a new seaborne wave of piracy, but was plagued by a series of accidents and mishaps. The Black Major soon realised that the SAS had survived and renewed the hunt. The Red Shadows simultaneously attacked Colombia, Ecuador, Chili and Peru only to discover hidden SAS teams were lying in wait. All of the terrorist attacks were repelled and the Baron's pirate fleet was sunk. He escaped in luxury aboard a cruise liner while the Black Major is alleged to have stowed away upon an oil tanker bound for Africa.
The following accounts are taken from Action Force records relating to a string of global terrorist actions. As can be seen by the sheer scope of the Baron's attacks, the Red Shadows were, at their height, a powerful, efficient and well funded organisation. Were it not for the valiant actions and sacrifices of the men and women of Action Force, the Red Shadows goal of world domination could very likely have become a reality.
Reports filtered through of a new Red Shadow training ground in the South American Jungle, where troops were being ruthlessly weeded out by the Black Major. Their first mission was a raid upon an important military base to replenish supplies and weaponry. The Black Major lead the assault, aided by Red Shadow operatives Red Laser and Red Vulture. The battle was hard and bloody but eventually the Shadows triumphed. As Baron Ironblood emerged to survey his spoils, a rapid insertion SAS team attempted to capture him. While the Red Shadow hierarchy managed to escape with their lives, the munitions warehouse was completely destroyed.
Z Force then tracked the Baron and the Major to an abandoned mine in Norway after the theft of one of their prototype Battle Tanks. The battle was swift and culminated in the destruction of the Baron's hideout. Undeterred by the loss of another base of operations, Baron Ironblood chose to rebuild his pirate fleet in the South Atlantic. Q Force were despatched to investigate the disappearance of a number of warships. The Black Major personally lead the hunt for the Action Force unit, who managed to evade capture long enough to plant and detonate explosives aboard the Baron's flagship, believed lost with all hands.
The Black Major then lead an assault upon Llamosa, the capital of Tawaichu. Space Force Commander Chuck Conners was shot down while on reconnaissance and was captured. He was set to work as a slave, before SAS managed to infiltrate the camp and free the slaves. Z Force arrived to secure the capital, but were met by a force of Muton death robots. In the confusion, Baron Ironblood, Red Laser and the Black Major attempted to escape by boat but were intercepted by Q Force. The boat was sunk and all three were mistakenly believed to be dead.
Baron Ironblood and the Black Major then took ownership of Castle Arlberg in Austria. SAS troops on operations stumbled upon the lair and were captured, but not before radioing to Z Force, who promptly assaulted the castle. Baron Ironblood and the Black Major escaped by helicopter. Soon after, forces loyal to Baron Ironblood then captured the naval base at Kuwayo, Africa. Z Force assaulted the fortifications as part of a sting operation. As predicted, Baron Ironblood despatched the Black Major to lead the defence. While unguarded, SAS parachutists then infiltrated the inland base and captured the Baron. The Black Major directly disobeyed his orders and rescued The Baron by posing as an SAS pilot.
Santalla, South America. The Red Shadows intervened in the civil war as mercenaries for the rebel General Mazanna. The Black Major personally captured the plans for the entire government Defence Network, paving the way for the Shadows to overthrow the government in a bloody coup. However, the Red Shadows were then betrayed by Mazanna. In another attempt to capture Action Force technology, the Major was thwarted by Q Force while attempting to capture a sunken Space Force Cosmic Cruiser.
At the North Pole, Baron Ironblood, the Black Major and a squad of Red Shadows captured a radar station as bait for the SAS. During the ambush, an SAS rocket caused a landslide and the Red Shadow operatives were all buried beneath the ice. Nothing was heard from them until, many months later, an SAS training mission on the coast of Germany was overwhelmed by an army of the Red Shadow sea monsters now known as Kraken. A fierce battle ensued, ending suddenly with the SAS ramming a helicopter into the Baron's warship.
A series of Red Shadow raids on ports and installations in the Far East were intercepted by a mixed force of Z Force and SAS troops. Attempting to escape by sea, Baron Ironblood's craft was rammed by a speedboat and the Baron was lost at sea. He was later swept ashore and had to make his escape on foot. The Black Major tracked the Baron and rescued him from Z Force moments before he was to be summarily executed.
Atoll Z was the location for a fierce struggle for supremacy in the South Pacific. The Black Major and Red Laser lead a contingent of Red Shadows against a Z Force outpost. The battle raged in the midst of Hurricane Yola and culminated in the Major and Red Laser being swept out to sea on a tidal wave.
While the Black Major and Red Laser were lost at sea, Baron Ironblood betrayed his Red Shadow minions and vanished without trace. He launched a string of terror attacks on Friday the Thirteenth, later known as Blood Day. Despite receiving the two hundred billion pound ransom, Ironblood chose to execute his hostages anyway. Outraged by this, the United Nations pushed for Resolution 909: The removal of the Red Shadow menace once and for all. Action Force units struck openly at every known Red Shadow installation and, while capturing or killing the majority if Ironblood's forces, neither Baron Ironblood nor the ransom were found.
The Red Shadow survivors of the Resolution 909 offensive congregated in South America, where they were hired as mercenaries by former members of the SS, having fled there at the end of WWII. At the heart of their secret bunker was none other than Adolf Hitler, kept alive by artificial means. Units of SAS and Cobra were both on exercise in the area and, upon their subsequent capture, allied themselves in order to escape. Eagle, Stake-Out, Major Bludd and the Baroness all fought side-by-side to destroy the Nazi menace once and for all. The Shadows, leaderless once more, slipped away in the confusion.
After months as castaways the Major and Red Laser returned to civilization. Quickly gathering the tattered remnants of the Red Shadows together they set out to renew their struggle against Action Force, as well as the forces of Cobra. Action Force were engaged in a new offensive based on the success of Resolution 909, codenamed Operation Charmer. The Red Shadows infiltrated their numbers and ruined the new AF team's one chance of defeating the Cobra movement in its infancy.
The Major's next move was to lead his renegade Red Shadows in an assault upon a secret Cobra Research College on the Swiss-Italian border. The siege was a diversion to trap and capture Destro, to ascertain Cobra Commander's whereabouts. Details are vague, but by all accounts the plan worked and, after ironing out their differences, the pair made a secret agreement to kill Cobra Commander. However, at that point the Baroness launched a counter strike against the College and Destro was forced to renege upon the deal. He promptly hurled the Black Major to his death in the ravine below. However, the Major survived the fall and proceeded to destroy the facility.
The next known report is of a sudden coup in the small South American country of Valdez. The Major sacrificed the bulk of his army to the AF team as he stole a fortune in South American valuables. Months later, a night of extreme violence occurred in Paris, France. Acting on a tip-off, Cobra Commander despatched Storm Shadow to assassinate the Black Major. The ninja managed to kill all of the Major's men, the Major himself barely escaped with his life and was not heard from again.
The Devil's Due
It is now assumed that, with his army lost, a stolen fortune and a death mark over his head, the Major changed his identity to that of Wilder Vaughn. Vaughn quickly established himself as a mercenary for the intelligence communities. Joe Colton, the founder member of the US GI Joe team, first met Vaughn while serving in the jungles of South-East Asia. Colton bore witness to Vaughn summarily executing one of his own men for flagrantly reinterpreting his orders. He later described the man as being 'completely assured of his righteousness'.
In 2005 the Red Shadows resurfaced fully and, with a rapid series of surgical strikes, managed to immobilise Cobra Command and send the GI Joe team into disarray. Vaughn's plans of creating a new world order were all but completed until a last ditch attempt by the Joe team caused him to regroup. Had it not been for the events of World War III, the Red Shadows would surely have achieved their ultimate goal of World Domination.